Ethics Of Flying Qatar Airways

Earlier in the week I wrote a post entitled “When Airlines Take Actions Based On Your Blog Post.” While I always do everything in my power to write fair and honest reviews, it kind of altered my perspective on the impact one of my reviews can have. On the whole I write about more positive experiences than negative experiences, and I certainly know that at times my feedback is passed on to the appropriate sources.

However, I don’t think it was ever taken as seriously as it was on China Southern, where several people were apparently demoted due to what I reported on the flight. As I explained in that post, I felt guilty. Not because anything I wrote was inaccurate, but because by my standards the punishment seemed harsh. If I wrote a negative review of a US airline the whole first class crew wouldn’t be “demoted,” and at worst they’d be called into their supervisor’s office to discuss the situation.

But the feedback you guys provided was brilliant, and ultimately I came to recognize that I did all that I could to provide feedback in hopes of China Southern improving, and I have no control over how they try to implement that.

Towards the end of the post I wrote the following:

Along similar lines, I’ve linked to the “expose” on Qatar Airways, and how easily they fire flight attendants simply by freezing their bank accounts and giving them a one-way ticket out of Qatar. So if I were flying Qatar Airways and had horrible service, should I still write a review about the flight, or should I skip it out of fear of what could happen to the flight attendant providing the bad service?

Reader Christian left an interesting comment in response to this:

Surely you’ll never fly Qatar, now you’re aware of how they treat their employees? I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t sit there and write a review, with that in the back of my mind.

You can’t just say I don’t care about that, I only review the products for ‘you guys’. Take a stand and show you care about the people to. Even if Qatar don’t.

So forgetting the review for a second, is it “ethical” to fly Qatar Airways?

While we have no way to verify with 100% accuracy the validity of the “expose,” it is well documented that Qatar Airways has some of the harshest work rules. And while Emirates and Etihad can have strict rules as well, they’re nowhere near as bad as Qatar Airways.

I’ve flown Qatar Airways before in first class, and actually have flights booked on them to review their 787 business class and new all business class A319 service between Doha and London.

Qatar Airways 777 Doha

But now I’m curious to hear what you guys would do.

Yes, I have strong ethical objections to the way they treat their employees, but at the same time I have strong ethical objections to the way a lot of airlines treat their employees.

For that matter, I have strong objections to laws in lots of the countries I visit, or hell, even to many laws in the US. But at the same time that doesn’t stop me from visiting them, since if anything it makes me appreciate the “freedoms” I have more. And I’m not sure where exactly to draw “the line.”

So I have two poll questions below. I’m curious whether knowing Qatar Airways’ work conditions would impact your willingness to fly with them, and ultimately whether I should just stay away from the airline and not review them because of this?

[poll id=”40″]

[poll id=”41″]

Can’t wait to hear what you guys think! I realize a “yes” or “no” poll probably can’t do justice to this question, so would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section as well!

Filed Under: Qatar
  1. Qatar Airways is just one example. Will one cancel a luxury hotel stays in Asia or Africa because hotel staff members are sometimes treated by their employer as slaves? Unfortunately, (uber)luxurious experiences will always be a magnet for people to make them feel distinguished from others (regardless of ethics). Nevertheless, I hope that with the rise of globalization, those abuses will gradually disappear and that companies who continue to abuses their staff will be punished by non-consumption of their product by an ethically conscious society.

  2. The Gulf states are not North Korea. They’re not even Saudi Arabia. But they’re horribly socially retrograde, in many more ways than this. I’d never consider flying on one of their airlines, no matter how posh.

  3. I was in DXB this weekend and met up with a friend of mine who’s from there but now lives in DOH working for a well-known media organization that’s owned by the government of Qatar. I asked her about this article in particular and learned that while the airline’s treatment is particularly flagrant, it’s still frustrating for employees of other organizations, such as getting an exit visa just to return home.

    By the way, first time in a GCC for me this past weekend (thanks, Widerøe) but I totally get what you were saying about the UAE just seeming depressing …

  4. Just do your job at 110% all the time and 99.99% of the time it’ll work out. If you do 80% then be prepared to deal with the consequences

  5. I still have enough places I haven’t visited that I can easily stay away from those that I have some strong objection to (or from certain modes of getting there).

    I tried to vote, but I keep getting “Your last request is still being processed. Please wait a while.”

  6. If all flyers were to boycott Qatar, wouldn’t that just lead to many employees losing their jobs? That could be a worse outcome. It is a hard situation and I don’t have an answer (or even know what my feelings really are on the situation).

  7. I’ll never fly Qatar Airways, and I am someone they target, specifically. While no airline, or company, or country is going to be “perfect,” it’s also about degree of imperfection. Treating women like slaves and worse? Not a hard decision for me to avoid travel spend with such an airline.

    Your inquisitive nature is a refreshing contrast to a different blogger, who displays troubling levels of moral relativism. However, that blogger’s political ideology seems to inform his stances on things like this (dogmatism is a scary thing), where a simple “No, this isn’t okay, and I have other options” should be a pretty easy answer. So thank you for the question. Some bloggers post what they think are all the answers, vs. sometimes looking inside and posing questions that help define what our principles are.

    I laud you for asking yourself, as well as others, about how we feel about this issues. I’m certainly not going to condemn you for flying Qatar, however I’m glad it’s on an award vs. full fare. 🙂 Yeah, they’ll get something, but it’s substantially less. For me, it’s not a difficult answer: Nope, my travel monies will be going elsewhere.

  8. I have flown Qatar Airways, and would agree with what has been written by others. Most airlines treat their employees with less than professional treatment, including our domestic airlines in America. While it is hard to stomach that treatment, the treatment of the African airlines is worse, even though we may never hear about it. But to fly there, there isn’t a choice on how to get there. Hopefully, Qatar’s joining the OneWorld alliance will change some of that, but it didn’t see to for other similar airlines.

  9. Regarding the second question, I suggest overlooking the final percentages and just looking at the raw numbers. If it will make 100+ regular readers feel a little uncomfortable I would just not do it, even if a higher percentage says ‘yes’.

  10. @ Evan — Well either that, or if the boycott were properly targeted then it should lead to Qatar Airways changing the way they treat employees. At the end of the day Qatar will want a state airline, so I don’t see them going out of business anytime soon.

  11. Why not take this whole issue one step further?

    If we believe this expose article about Qatar is true shouldn’t we be boycotting Qatar’s partner in OneWorld…American Airlines. No flying them until Qatar changes it’s policies or it is dismissed from OneWorld.

  12. The reason to cancel is relatively straight forward. If your review if positive, that will reinforce in the minds of QR managers that their HR policies are justified and effective. It will also encourage more people to fly them who may not be aware of the concerns. If the review is negative, there is the potential for stop us adverse consequences for those staff. Basically, reviewing QR is lose-lose until their policies change.

  13. The more you support a regime the more your are responsible for the outcomes. This is one of those things in life where there is a choice. Choose the right one.

  14. I wholeheartedly agree with TravelinWilly. I lived & worked in Kuwait but my experience was no where near that of Swiss FA’s experiences. Though female citizens have no individual rights, such as inheritance and child custody, they fail to use their privileges to assert their independence and trade it for affluent lifestyle. If they continue to live off their male’s wealth, they must totally submit to them. It is totally opposite to Indian women where poverty is rampant. You won’t see revolution in the six wealthy Gulf states because their living standards are quite high, though they are still trapped in the tribal mentality that will never enable them to advance to the first world standards.Wealth that is built on abundant natural resources in absence of human resources will not be sustainable. I personally won’t patronage their services or visit those countries, esp. Dubai, but I acknowledge that working in Kuwait for three years enabled us to accumulate huge savings to have no consumer debts in my early 40s. And the opportunity to travel in MidEast, Europe and SE Asia.

  15. I had planned to fly Qatar, but have decided not to, and won’t until they change their behavior toward their employees. I cannot give my money or support to companies that violate my values, or treat human beings like property. As to whether you should or shouldn’t fly them, I’m torn between a) you have to follow your own values; b) don’t give them any money until they change; and c) definitely, because it will continue to bring more attention to the subject. I’m leaning toward C.

  16. There’s reason I’m not a huge fan of liberalzing 5th-freedom opportunities for foreign carriers to sell and fly segments wholly within the USA.

    We have some standard of living here, and allowing carriers like QR to go head-to-head with domestic competition really gives them an unfair advantage. Yes we can offer a better experience for a lower price, if we treat our employees like slaves. Is that what we want?

  17. Not flying QR will hurt the people who thought working for them an opportunity. Maybe wear a t-shirt that shows your opinion on the flight if it makes you feel better.

  18. It is possible to write a proper report without being too concerned about the employees future. Just skip the exact date and nobody will know who your crew was…

  19. I voted Yes, and then No.

    I won’t personally fly them, I’ll give my business to other airlines.

    But you aren’t the Pope, you are a travel blogger. Your job is to review what’s out there. I applaud you posting the expose on Qatar, but I don’t think that means you shouldn’t review the airline. Fly them for us, honestly review them, warts and all. Include the moral questions, as you already have, and let us all make our own decisions.

    And man, drawing these moral lines is really tough. China for many peasants is as bad or worse than Qatar, so are we not going to go there until they become a free market democracy?

    Worse, China supports North Korea, which is a nation wide Gulag. If you investigate the situation in NK, they do things the Nazis wouldn’t have been able to stomach. And not just to minority groups, as the Nazis did, they severely oppress, and often torture/kill nearly everyone. Including lately family members of the dictator.

    The North Korean dictatorship would fall without the protection and support of China.

    Are we now not going to buy anything made in China, remembering that trade has brought millions of Chinese out of deep poverty? Hard, hard questions, and I don’t have the answers to them. 🙁

  20. We don’t actually know whether the report are truly representative of the whole situation… Or whether the report is factual at all. Of course this would raise concerns, but also this could just be the work of rogue fired crew members who were unhappy that they were terminated.

  21. Until employees are forced against their will to sign up to work for Qatar, your conscious should be clear. If a prospective employee signs up to work for a new firm in a new country (in many cases, including the salacious post you refer to, with a very different culture than their own) and live in company provided housing and not conduct even cursory diligence into how the company treats their staff, shame on them.

    While I certainly don’t wish ill-fortune to Qatar’s staff, individuals’ inability to exercise even a small amount of caution in these situations shouldn’t be your problem.

    And, if tough work conditions are a gating issue for you when selecting your travel plans, make sure you don’t fly an AA or DL flight where the flight attendants share a “crash pad” near JFK. In many cases, those ladies live in near squalor.

  22. The report could possibly be from a disgruntled employee. Anyway many airlines treat their staff harshly, and all these wanabee-investigators have released many reports like these on different airlines. For eg there was a report on how Delta’s food hygiene was terrible, worse than many restaurants, but more often than not, these reports aren’t credible. So I don’t think you should take this report seriously.

  23. Like Robert I voted Yes then No. This story also brings to mind Mandela and the boycott of South Africa and how it started from the edge and eventually created a ground swell that the government was unable to avoid. But my you flying them and reviewing them and highlighting this issue you move the needle of progress. When you review them I would urge you not to review in such a way where management can single out specific employees. Your blog has grown to a level where the changes that you can really influence are truly at a management level and I would encourage you to focus there and make the industry better as a result……….

  24. I have flown Qatar and have no problems flying again with them. Why? Because I know that Qatar is NOT a democracy, but are slowly moving in that direction and things are slowly improving.

    I would however NEVER fly with any american carrier. Why? Because they come from a country that claims to be a democracy and the greatest country in the world.
    Yet :
    -there are no nationwide samesexmarriage laws,
    -unions for workers are on the verge of being outlawed,
    -the minimimum wages are so low that it is not unheard of people having to be forced to take a second job just to make a decent living,
    -you can get fired on the spot without any security at all,
    – and oh don’t get me started on the still existing discrimination against people of colour.

    Bottom line : I rather support Qatar, a company from a country slowly moving in the right direction, than an american airline, from a country that claims to be doing everything right while the ugly truth is that it is closer to a dictatorship than they want to admit.

  25. Regardless of whether you decide to personally fly with them, I find it quite disturbing that, as of now, 40 percent of respondents answer ‘No’ to the incredibly generic question “Does the way Qatar Airways treats their employees impact your willingness to fly them?” At what level of abuse would it impact those people’s willingness? Is there any such level?

  26. I have always said that I would never fly airlines that don’t support equality for all and try my best to avoid places that discriminate.

    Qatar and UAE are those places and airlines that I will avoid. They import workers from India, Pakistan, Phillipines etc..for construction and ignore and change their own laws and the WEATHER STATS! If the temperature rises above 40C (or near there) then according to the law all outside work is to stop, but from expats that work there, they alter the numbers (temperature)so work continues!

    DXB, DOH and area is nothing more than LAS in my opnion. They both are unsustainable and shouldn’t exist.

  27. p.s. not sure if this post is just good marketing or genuine. Also, I think they now are expecting you.

  28. You should still review them. Ask the flight attendants how they felt like, if you want to 🙂

  29. Your ethical challenge is the reason why you need to fly Qater. If we don’t fly an airline or visit a country that has values we don’t agree with, we are pushing the problem under the rug. Instead, we need to fly these airlines and visit these countries. When we come home, we need to blog, write to newspapers and talk about our experiences and the problems or abuses occurring over there.

    Now a days, boycotts rarely work in making change. What makes companies and countries change is publicity. By talking about the problem/abuse, you shine a small light on the problem. If enough people start talking about the problems, the light on the problem becomes bigger and bigger.

    I encourage you to take the trips on Qater. Write reviews on the hard product and maybe less on the service. For every post you make on their product; another one, like this one, should be written about there practices.

  30. I will fly Qatar Airways business class on its B787, B777 and A330 the first week of March and write a trip report about it. So this may be the solution to your dilemma whether to fly them or not for review purposes 🙂

  31. You don’t know how Qatar Airways treats its flight attendants. You have one article that told a story which cannot be independently verified and which may well have been motivated by politcal or other animous. It may be accurate, but it may not be. We simply do not know.

  32. These are difficult questions and each individual just has to make their own choices. I don’t think any answer is absolutely correct. My choice is to avoid Qatar, but may not fit for everyone else.
    Some how I missed the report of the aftermath of your China Southern review, but I’ll find it. In the end, your reviews are widely read and that is all the more reason to keep them as objective as possible. At least you have the experience to (usually) recognize the difference between an airline that is always delivering horrible service and one that may have an off day. Keep it objective and keep on reporting, please.

  33. BFrankley said,

    “I voted Yes, and No. You should keep shining your little bit of light on Quatar’s darkness.”

    ^ This.

    Rather than pretend Qatar doesn’t exist how about intentionally drawing attention to what they would rather sweep under the rug as part of your reviews? You’re becoming a rare author with a conscience in a field choc full of morally indifferent bloggers.

  34. When you start applying selective boycotts on moral grounds, you bring a political element to the blog that will polarise your readership and consequently diminish the quality and perception of your writings. You have worked very hard to produce a product that is now highly respected as one of the best neutral sources of premium travel reviews on the internet. Don’t hurt your position in that niche by going political. This is one of the sources of your livelihood.

    If you choose not to fly Qatar Airways out of personal choice, just don’t fly them. But no need to share the reasons for this publicly – you may be called out by many as a hypocrite and urged to expand your boycott by others. Plenty of airlines, hotels and other employers have also treated staff poorly (eg. United wiped out employee pensions in Chapter 11) and some people may view those actions as worse than what Qatar does and urge you to boycott those. Cue slippery slope. This is a travel blog, not a human rights blog. Focus on the travel writing with a clear conscience.

  35. This supposed expose is not verified and I am surprised that you of all people would take unsubstantiated reports seriously. I fly Qatar and find their service to be top of the line. I am a hotelier and have been in this business for over 25 years with Oberoi hotels as General Manager and The Oberoi is recognised as a leading luxury hotel brand and that is because of the people who work there….I do not believe that Qatar could offer this level of service with unhappy employees…

  36. It’s disconcerting when people start equating even the most basic discussion of morals and ethics with “going political” as if following your conscience is some sort of albatross that should only be done in secret.

  37. I am surprised that neither the blogger nor any of the prior commentators have touched upon the fact that besides treating their employees poorly, QR also treats its customers with the utmost disdain.

    Case in point, dishonoring error fares even after passengers have flown half-way across the globe to position themselves for these flights. I can already the snooty retorts about error fare customers not deserving better, but I go by the simple principle of taking responsibility. As a business owner and as an individual I face the consequences when I, or a member of my staff, have goofed up in some way.

    Honoring these error fares would have cost QR not very much (in terms of marginal cost), but they simply took no responsibility for their own error and displayed their collective middle fingers to their customers.

    Pay to fly such an airline? No way at all.

  38. I am an ethicist by training, and I don’t think what I am aware of necessitates any sort of boycott of the airline or its partner’s *yet*.

    First, there’s the problem of knowing whether the story reflects any policy of the airline that is actionable. One Anecdote is not enough to require a moratorium on dealing with a large company like an airline. Surely, plenty of international employees of plenty of companies can doctor a story to say something like “Microsoft froze my bank accounts and made me flee back to X.” Further details might come to light that undermine the validity of the story.

    Second, there are questions about the nature of freedom and autonomy that relate to bad deals short of slavery. A bad job taken willfully is what it is. Whether it merits the titles of trafficking and slavery depend on further questions about inhumane treatment, deception, seizures of legitimate freedoms (e.g., they won’t let me take 1 bathroom break on a 12 hour flight != they won’t let me sit in the back and read people magazine for 6 hours of the flight during meal service). I cannot say whether or not Qatar Airlines does something immoral without more info.

    Third, there’s a question about how responsible you are for the events that occur outside of your deal with Qatar airlines. Clearly, we cannot sit idly by in the face of clear immorality — say if they put slavedrivers on the planes lashing the women while they serve. But there are complexities in relation to events for which we are not responsible. We cannot know if an airline suddenly switched our cabin crew for galley slaves. In a similar vein, some of your other commentators seem to want to punish Qatar Airlines as a proxy for the beliefs of the Qatari government. That’s not really our responsibility as flyers. (For those who think it is, you would really need to stop flying airlines altogether due to their dependency on oil that may be from the same questions).

  39. You are a travel blogger. Review the product and qualify the review if you like. We can all make up our minds.

  40. Why don’t you fly them, review them, and in the review detail the concerns.

    I agree that Qatar is not the only culprit here; there are several others… but one always has to start somewhere and doing so with higher profile companies can have more immediate impact.

  41. I guess I am confused… In the United states business owners have the right to fire employees for poor performance why should that be any different in the middle east? If a flight attendant ‘ job is to provide quality service and they fail to meet that standard they should be fired. Many of the same poster’s here would fire an employee who didn’t meet standards but us now judging an airline who does the same. Seems like a double standard.

  42. Wow, many readers are massive hypocrites. The majority say they will potentially avoid Qatar Airways, but still want you to blog about them.

    Contemptuously pathetic.

  43. I am the kind who will not believe a story unless I go experience myself. I will fly them to check it out, review it, ask FAs how truthful that article represented? If I feel bad about it.. then will not fly them again!

    Thing is I do not use my real name on the report, so if I don’t specify the date, they will never find out. But for you Ben, everybody knows your name so if the review is bad, QR will find out what flight it is…

  44. @Carlos, re your statements about work conditions (employment at will, unions, etc), guaranteed employment is not part of democracy. Merit advancement is.

    You might consider moving to Venezuela, North Korea or another far left country. If you need help with the ticket, let me know.

    While you are packing, give some though to this … When was the last time there was a famine or continued food shortage in a free market democracy?

  45. Go.

    I want a terribly delicious double cheese burger, I go down the street to McDonalds. The same one that gets terrible reviews about under paid, bad, abused,etc workers. Now, that’s different than your story, but you (for the most part) pick your job – good or bad.

  46. I applaud your sense of dignity and righteous. But, like many others have said, this is your chosen job. You have bills to pay and so on, your moral compass has to be your own. You have to live with yourself and face yourself in the mirror, every morning. Now, for me, I wouldn’t fly Qatar. My company has a contract with them, but I still would avoid them. You see for Americans, we can do that. There are other airlines that go where most Americans need to go.

  47. If you are going to change your travel patterns for ethics, then please don’t ever visit the Maldives, Oberoi hotels in India and likely several other places, chains, airlines, etc. Every region/country has their practices and the employees at Qatar sign up for employment with advance knowledge of policies.

  48. As a frequent flyer , I choose QATAR airways for any international trip. Although I have flown Etihad and Emirates I still find some minor things a miss, be it in their hard product consistency or frontline staff.

    Politeness is found in frontline staff of QATAR airways on the ground or in the air.

    The genuineness of the ETHICS ARTICLE needs to be verified .

  49. I think the first question missed a choice or can be misleading — I would choose yes because the rules Qatar set for their FAs do impact my willingness to take their flight: it make me want to fly more with them. I wish all airlines can follow and set the same behavior standards to their employees and the air travel will be a much safer and better experience for all passengers.

  50. Why does the frozen bank account get so much attention. That’s part of working in the area. Yesterday I spent half my day at SABB because when I renewed my Iqama and emailed a copy to my bank they forgot to do their job and my account got frozen. There are two kinds of people in the GCC, those that have had bank issues, and those that will. As for how the FAs on Qatar are treated……they’re doing far better than many Expat workers in the gulf.

  51. @Carlos,


    “I would however NEVER fly with any american carrier. Why? Because they come from a country that claims to be a democracy and the greatest country in the world.”

    -there are no nationwide samesexmarriage laws – Right, because as a Democracy, we choose to leave that up to the individual States to decide via the ballot box, regardless of the Federal Government’s interference.

    -unions for workers are on the verge of being outlawed – Not outlawed, just outdated – VW and the United Auto Workers union just had their a$$es handed to them by workers in Tennessee, who have seen the devastation that unions have caused to workers and cities… Google Detroit, once one of the greatest cities on the planet.

    -the minimimum wages are so low that it is not unheard of people having to be forced to take a second job just to make a decent living – In the United States, a Minimum Wage job is not supposed to be a “living wage”, it’s a first step on the job ladder – Students in university, kids out of high school, that’s the majority of minimum wage job holders.

    -you can get fired on the spot without any security at all – And as an employee, while you should give a 2 week notice (out of common courtesy) you may also quit your job on the spot, maybe even telling your boss what he can do with it – As it should be. A business shouldn’t have to keep sub-par employees on the payroll – look at most European countries – it takes YEARS to be fired from a job.

    – and oh don’t get me started on the still existing discrimination against people of colour – Right, having elected (twice) a black President?

    We’re not going to turn into another Europe, sorry…

  52. Management already knows Ben’s name and can easily find out and dismiss/punish any employees on his flights. Knowing this, he will presumably not make any comments on employees in his review. This alone will make the review biased, even before the flight has occurred.

    This would be a good time to outsource a review to a true undercover, i.e. not Ben Schalppig.

    And *eyeroll* at those who think that because the expose piece could possibly be biased, then we should just blow it off and assume by default that Qatar is a great airline who treats employees wonderfully. Get your head out of the sand and read the paper sometimes. Qatar as a whole is a near slave state, and the airline is no differrent. It takes minimal Googling to find well-researched pieces like this:

  53. My suggestion is to review your flight without being specific on the people. Dont mention exact flight numbers or specifics that can identify each individual unless you intend to single someone out.

    If I understand you correctly, the idea is to give us readers an idea on what to expect when flying these airlines, and also to have the airlines improve where they need to.

  54. I think it is ethical to fly QR. In fact, I just flew Qatar on a 787 and A330 (where they served Krug on the CAI-DOH leg!)

    At the end of the day, all the employees of QR chose to work for QR. If a person is applying for FA jobs, I’d presume they also applied at Emirates, Etihad, and of course, their own home country airline. For FA’s who come from third world countries, this job is probably a lot better than any job they could get in their home country. If the work conditions at QR are really that close to slavery, I’d imagine a mass exodus of flight attendants leaving QR altogether. Perhaps the facts of that expose needs to be verified? Regardless, the only way to truly find out is to become a QR FA yourself! 🙂

  55. @Kevin-how naïve. “- and oh don’t get me started on the still existing discrimination against people of colour – Right, having elected (twice) a black President?

    You clearly live in a hole.

    Sorry for responding since this isn’t a political blog but your comments are beyond naïve.

    That said, my comment before I read Kevin’s and my blood pressure spiked was: Do you continue to fly domestic carriers due to the way they treat customers? (tongue in cheek but clearly making a statement).

  56. I don’t think you should cancel your trip on Qatar.
    Personally I think there are a few problems with the ethical question of whether or not to fly Qatar.

    1) We don’t know to what extent the allegations were true.
    2) We don’t know the ACTUAL reason why she was fired (I do agree that it was in an unacceptable way, but still, there should have been a reason)
    3) If you think that unfair firing should decide your airlines, well I’ve got some bad news for you: you should stop flying, visiting hotels and actually stop eating. Join the Amish maybe?
    4) You should always choose the most comfortable / economical way to travel, disregarding the way they treat their employees. It’s not your problem…
    5) If everyone would boycott Qatar, people wouldn’t be better off, they all would loose their jobs. And if people aren’t happy at their place of work, they can always quit. Probably if they don’t quit, they don’t have a better alternative. Thus they shouldn’t complain and you should be happy for them.

  57. well, would a small number of Americans flying Qatar less mean anything? For Qatar to recognize and change its current situation, we need a big number, a big impact because their traffic is about connecting people who are willing to pay less from/to asia to/from the rest of the world. Their business class attracts a lot of companies in Qatar and its partners, so we mean nothing here. Well, unless this becomes bigger and companies started shifting their travel to other airlines.

  58. As for the accuracy of the expose in Sweden’s Expressen, although I am an unknown to you all, but I can personally attest to it being 100% accurate. I have lived in DOH for years now and I can count several friends an acquaintances among cabin and flight crew and who have told me of what has happened to their friends for the slightest “mistake.”

    The problem is two-fold: that the CEO is a micro-manager who is half-Indian with traditional Indian views (it doesn’t help that he doesn’t like women either).
    The other is that what we Westerners think doesn’t matter much. QR is practically Air India. I mean its clientele are for the most part Indian expats who fill up the seats whether you’re flying from Chicago or Houston or NYC or LHR.
    Yes, they have expanded and would like to expand further but as another reader said it’s a state-owned company and gets regular “infusions of cash,” as the CEO likes to call them from the “main stakeholder.”
    Just watch one of the CEO’s interviews on YouTube and you can quickly grasp how obnoxious he can be.
    On your next trip I suggest stay for a week or so and:
    1. go to a couple of clubs where the crew are known to frequent and have a direct conversation with them.
    2. go to a mall and browse through Carrefour, then have dinner (later than usual, people eat late compared to the West) and observe how maids are treated.
    What you’d observe is a microcosm.

  59. Sorry, I forgot to add too that I hope my comment about the background of the CEO is not regarded as racist. I’m only pointing out a reality based on my direct knowledge.
    Since a year ago I’ve tried to not fly with QR if it’s at all possible. Sometimes we are restricted by our destination and the timings but whenever possible I have and do fly Turkish (to Europe) or Jet Airways (India) just to avoid QR. KLM (to Scandinavia), BA (North America), Emirates or Etihad (Africa). While the cabin crew have always performed admirably (perhaps under the threat of dismissal?), ground operations have always left much to be desired.

  60. Lucky, it just depends on whether you feel that boycotting the airline personally and/or encouraging others to do the same would effect any change. I’m not sure it would with Qatar Airways, but if it generates publicity and shines light on the subject I absolutely think it’s worthwhile to boycott. Keep in mind the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego: until they changed ownership, would you have stayed there?

    Personally, I think you could go either way, but if you feel moved by this “cause,” absolutely refuse to fly them and state in no uncertain terms why you don’t, and why you encourage others to refrain from doing so as well.

  61. If the answer is No, I would also be intrigued as to what you would do if Chase launched a Qatar credit card with a 100,000 mile sign-up bonus (lots of AA and US redemptions via oneworld) and a $200 per sign-up commission.

    We all know what the rest of the blogosphere would do!

  62. Of all those folks in favor of boycott, how many of you carry iphones? Have you ever questioned the working conditions at Foxcon in china? You don’t force changes by isolation. You help bring a change with engagement. I encourage everyone who is in favor of boycott to be active. Write to your senator, congressman/woman. Write to the Qatar embassy. Send letters to Qatari newspapers. Heck, send letters to the royal family. What these gulf states are doing is wrong but boycott is not the solution.

  63. I say you continue to book whatever flights you want and run the website as you have, reviewing as many products as you can.

    I don’t know where you draw the line with stuff like this. If they aren’t doing anything illegal then what can you do? What can they be reported for? It’s the government’s job to enforce laws.

  64. I fly to Nepal a lot for my work. Flying from the States, the most reasonable fares and the most used routes by my employer go through Doha, Dubai, etc. I have flown Qatar several times because I go to Nepal often, and I have to go with the most reasonable fares since my employer pays for my work travel. Although I have a problem with the way Qatar Airways treats their employees, my choices are limited in the routes and airlines I can fly for business travel to Nepal and these are set by my employer. My personal choice would be to not fly Qatar. However, since the choice is up to my employer it’s likely I will have to fly on Qatar as long as I continue going back and forth to Nepal.

  65. @Mario,

    You seem quite appalled by how people are treated there, yet you feel perfectly fine continuing to live there happily making money while fueling the things you speak off !!

    Do you own a car, how are the mechanics treated at your dealership?
    How does your supermarket treat the staff where you buy your grocery’s?
    How does your home maintenance provider treat its maintenance staff when you A/C breaks down?

    Yet Im sure you are fine with utilizing these services if not all, perfectly fine.

    The reality is 80% of people around the world dont get treating correctly, In Qatar or the Gulf, had these people’s alternatives not been worse, they would not put up with it.

  66. I think the decision is an editorial one. You don’t review EVERY airline out there due to constraints and interests, so why review Qatar? I don’t know where your personal or political views lie, but given that you seem to be wrestling with this dilemma – to review or not to review – err on the side of NOT. You don’t need them, and they don’t need you. I don’t think “serving your readers” is an adequate excuse if you are concerned with their policies…

  67. I think you made two incompatible comparison between airlines services and law of nations. laws and sovereignty are at the will of its citizens and as a tourists or travelers, we can only view and object from the outside. so no matter how bad that country’s laws are, we cant do anything about it,unless you have some part in the UN committee. However with Qatar, it is a ‘Business’ and that in itself is just like any other business around the world. We can vote, object and veto it with our patronage. I do agree that, your reviews will for certain have consequences for the employees. I dont know if anyone cant change Al Barker mindset and his company.

  68. I would also ask where you would draw the line on ignoring policies that you consider unacceptable. For example, as a gay man, I won’t be visiting Russia, Uganda or Nigeria right now. But I would visit Australia, that has consistently failed to pass marriage equality laws. To me, it’s about punitive policies versus political stasis.

    I certainly won’t visit Texas because as long as Rick Perry is Governor, though.

  69. I certainly wouldn’t buy a paid ticket on Qatar Airways but I am planning on flying them from Kathmandu to NYC later in the year on a ticket purchased with American Airlines miles (which I am assuming is how you booked your flight).  According to numbers you published about how much (or little, rather) one airline reimburses another for a Business Class Award Ticket it hardly seems like I would be supporting them.  Booking two seats in their premium cabin on a premium route (NYC) for peanuts actually seems more like I’m sticking it to them then supporting them.  I won’t criticize any of the flight attendants on my review (though nobody reads my blog anyway)

  70. Moral dilemmas are often faced by people at work. One’s choices are made based on one’s values. No one can answer these questions except you.

    You can choose to follow the “advice” of everyone else or not. It’s still your choice and responsibility.

    Your dilemma seems to be you have misgivings about flying an airline that goes against your ethical boundaries or not. If you do not, have you crossed your ethical boundaries to provide complete coverage to your readers.

    I know my choice is to do what I think is the “most” right. Do you care more about Qatar’s staff or your readers? Most importantly, learn to live your choices without regret because you will feel badly because that is the definition of a moral dilemma.

  71. Lucky,
    Let’s stop being hypocrites. Let’s see – how do you think the iPhone is made ? did you read the reports that it is being made is sweatshops in china, where there is a high suicide rates ? what about those Nike shoes ? Buying from Wal-Mart
    I hardly think those reports on Qatar airways are credible, yet you see so many hypocrites complaining … Now tell them not to buy any apple products, or anything made by slaves in china paid a few dollars per day, Open your eyes people !!

  72. I have a friend from Indonesia who defended child labor which I think most Americans are against. His opinion was that his country doesn’t have the government support programs like the US and therefore it was critical for even young Indonesians to have an opportunity to work in order to help support their families.

  73. @Kevin +1

    Thank you for posting everything I was thinking, thus saving me the time and trouble of composing and posting it myself.

    @ Ray “You clearly live in a hole” ???

    What a profoundly eloquent refutation of Kevin’s post. /sarc

  74. One of my best friend used to work for Qatar, and she said it was insane.
    They have a grooming manager that inspect their every inch of waist, weight, hair, nails, etc. And its done before every flight.
    They HAD to treat every passenger with the best they can provide, because they can be fired the moment they land.
    on top of that, there’s so much limitation to just live in Qatar, like no drinking and all the non-sense rules.
    She’s out of there now, but she said she did learn a lot with that airline. So there’s good and bad towards everything. At least you know for the majority of the flights you’ll get excellent service!

  75. @Kevin and your +1 (Robert Hansen):

    Here is a direct quote off the first story I read tonight on Yahoo:

    “Do right by the people”? If that isn’t THE most ridiculous statement of the pot calling the kettle black. This half white honkey cracker of a tyrant and dicktator has done NOTHING but lie to us, laugh at us and slowly kill us (the middle class). Imprison this treasonous, no proof of college, racist spear chuckin’ terrorist supporter. Impeach!! Impeach!!

    Yes, racism is dead in America.

  76. “Yes, I have strong ethical objections to the way they treat their employees, but at the same time I have strong ethical objections to the way a lot of airlines treat their employees.” Well, I have strong ethical objections to how U.S. carriers and their employees treat their passengers! LOL.

  77. Having flown Qatar Airways recently I can tell for sure first and last time. The service was way below than I expected, the crew carried unhappiness on their faces, on anything they did. Food so so, “on demand” service does not really play in a good way. The premium terminal itself looks like cafeteria and business class passengers looked like potatoes going in and out from the buses. 5 star? Not convinced at all!

  78. Really, you shouldn’t believe these blatant accusations considering that they’re UNPROVEN. I’m pretty sure that a lot more cabin crew would have come out than 3, should the conditions be that bad.

  79. I guess most of these “it can’t be that bad” responders haven’t read about the Qatar World Cup Fiasco… Laborers are treated worse than dirt… basically a slavery system worse than ancient Roman times

  80. “like no drinking”

    Lots of booze in Qatar, and there are bars and nightclubs and restaurants that serve alcohol (not as much as Dubai, though). I guess they aren’t allowed to drink at all?

    To be honest, if we applied the same standards we are talking about applying to Qatar Airways that we applied to most other companies…we’d have to stop using most products. All you posting comments here via iPhones or iPads should be the first 😉

  81. “Laborers are treated worse than dirt… basically a slavery system worse than ancient Roman times”

    But that is true for all Gulf Arab countries. You all need to stop using Emirates then as well, and not transit through DXB either. Sorry Lucky, no more Emirates A380s showers for you 😉

  82. @Steve

    Speaking of ASSumptions, I wasn’t referring to you in particular, Steve-o. Just people in general.

    Also, try not to injure yourself when you dismount off of that high horse of yours.

  83. I appreciate the we should be thinking about the conditions of the laborers at various airlines. But if you’re concerned that Qatar Airways isn’t treating its staff well, perhaps you should start by looking at other services you use. The shirts we all wear that are made in Bangladesh are made by workers earning ~$68/month (it was recently raised from $40/month). The iPods made in Chinese factories where laborers toil in far worse conditions than those faced by Qatar Airways workers. The Mexican and Guatemalan workers in slaughter houses in Iowa and Arkansas face unspeakably terrible conditions.

    The fact is, we were all appalled by the Qatar Airways story because it was white, Western women who were treated poorly. But I can tell you that every single one of those Bangladeshi garment workers would kill each other for a chance at the “conditions” faced by Qatar Airways flight attendants.

  84. I just think this ‘report’ is just totally unverified and might even be a total untruth. Anyway, if this is how Qatar handles their staff, Emirates and Etihad would probably be doing the same. So if you want to boycott Qatar, you should boycott the other 2 as well.

  85. Nope, Emirates and Etihad absolutely do not treat their staff as QR does. I’m not saying they’re perfect but they definitely do not treat them like QR. Many QR crew who get fired (or without getting fired, just when they have enough) are snapped by Etihad in particular but sometimes by Emirates as well.
    It is said (but not verified) that Emirates has a 6-month grace period agreement with QR to not hire each other’s crew following dismissal.
    It is not only white Western women who are treated poorly either. The storey in the Expressen was about 2 white women but the crew are from all over the world. As the story points out, the preference is Romanians, Indians, Brazilians, Lithuanians, Russians.
    The reason is that there are large pools of beautiful, single, educated women from lower income backgrounds who “appreciate” a stable job and would not want to make waves.
    White women, particularly Australians have the highest rate of attrition which is why a couple of years ago the CEO instituted a rule whereby the crew must post a bond (deductible from salary) upon signing up and that the Australians (as far as I know [but not sure], the only group) get their pays a couple of weeks late because too many OZs decided not to return from their leaves.

  86. The best way to put these comments about “unproven” or “absurd claims” etc, is for Lucky to come here and see it for himself, then report back. As that reporter from the Expressen did. That story wasn’t only the story of those 2 Swedes, but the reporter actually came here several times and interviewed other crew.
    If you decide to come, contact me by e-mail and I’ll be happy to take to the watering holes that the crew like to frequent. Yes, there is indeed drinking going on but there are strict rules about when, where, etc. As alcohol is ONLY available in 5-star hotels’ bars and clubs, drinks are very expensive: $15 for a beer is the cheapest drink you can get. So, be prepared to host the hostesses to a few.
    To those who compare Qatar with Bangladesh and CHina with regard to workers’ right and poverty, etc, I would say that those are low-income countries. Here, though, we’re talking about the 2nd richest country per capita. There is no reason for things to be this way. It has been said that the strict rules are about protecting their traditional way of life since these thousands of young, single, beautiful ladies are brought here, they need to keep them under tight control, given that they are by law forbidden from having boyfriends. Though they almost always do.
    Again, if they can be allowed to live as freely as other Western expatriates do in the UAE, Bahrain and Oman, why can’t they here?
    The answer is: the CEO.

  87. Ironic that as I wrote the above, and soon after I suggested that Lucky should visit Qatar and spend a few days, this article is published in the Guardian.

    True, it seemingly has nothing to do with QR but it goes to show the ingrained attitudes and how the kafala the system works.

    I should hasten to add that Western expatriates who are hired by Western-based companies and whose contracts are signed and are valid outside of Qatar are not treated this way, but still do need an exit visa from their sponsor everytime they need to travel.

  88. @ Mario – Thank you! Quick note – I just finished reading a 13-page thread on CabinCrew dedicated to QR. It looks like it’s actually a minimum 12-month waiting period between leaving Qatar and applying to Emirates. But no such thing when going to Etihad (it appears that a lot of FAs apply to Etihad while working for Qatar).

  89. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in that article from For instance, this sentence is a whopper: “Cabin crew across the world may not work on board airplanes once pregnant due to health concerns, although some countries allow them to work for up to three months into the pregnancy.” In fact, FAs in the US (UA in particular) may fly through their 31st week.

  90. That is a great blog. You have put forth an amazing topic to discuss. It is really important as a human that you are treated with respect. When you work so hard you want people to appreciate it. Hospitality is a tough industry. However i have never seen an irritated qatar airways employee they always are always warm and helpful.

  91. As a former employee who was employed in the head office for the airline I have seen how expat employees are treated and the abuse of power some people have at the airline. No HR safeguards and a culture of don’t care about the welfare of employees leads me to say avoid the airline. Take your business somewhere more ethical!

  92. Nightmare called Qatar Airways.
    For thanksgiving break we took our son out of High School and our Daughter out of college to go visit the grandparent in India. {We all are US citizens}. We only had 10 days for this vacation and thanks to Qatar Airways it took us 2 days to get there and 2 days to get back. Plus ½ a day to resolve an issue created by them. So our vacation of 10 days was reduced to 5 ½ days thanks to Qatar Airways. They had numerous chances to fix the issue and Qatar Airways failed miserably on every step to do the right thing. This is a BIG beware recommendation before anyone thinks of flying Qatar.

    Booking the tickets: In April we got an email advertising cheap fares from Miami to New Delhi and we booked our tickets online for travel in November. First time on Qatar Airways.
    Before booking out tickets we called the customer service 800 number and asked them if we would get free accommodations as the layover was 9 hours in Doha while going and 23 hours when returning. The agent told us that they will give us a hotel as the layover was over 8 hours. Based on that info we booked our flights. {AMADEUS: 5J9L72}
    In October we called the customer service number to get our hotel stay booked and was informed that we are not eligible for hotel stay and we can change our flights for 450 dollars each. We talked to the agent and basically her attitude was too bad we gave you the wrong information (1st Instance for them to fix / do the right thing)
    We decided to book our own hotel and called them again as I read on a blog that Qatar gives transit visas and was informed again that Qatar Airways will not get us transit visa and we will have to get them ourselves @80 US dollars per person. We did our own research and found out that yes we were eligible for transit visa and applied and got them without any charge. (2nd instance for them to fix / do the right thing or even give us the right information)
    Travel to India: We left Miami on flight number QR 778 on November 18th, 2016. Check in was simple and effective and the plane was clean, professionally staffed and comfortable. Everything went well until this flight started to experience some trouble and had to make an emergency landing into Zurich about 8 hours in. This experience was scary as midflight all the lights came on and we were informed we were making an emergency landing and within 20 minutes we were on the ground with fire trucks and ambulances on either side of the runway. We sat on the tarmac inside the aircraft which intermittently lost power for two hours with no updates from the cockpit or the crew. (3rd instance for them to do the right thing)
    We were then made to disembark in -5 degree off the plane into waiting busses and we all were travelling from Miami to Doha and hence had no warm clothes. The wait for the busses had all of us freezing off. {4th chance to improve customer service}. We were placed inside a holding area for close to 12 hours in Zurich. We were told no one could help us with our connecting flights but that an aircraft from Doha was on its way to get us. There were other flights leaving from Zurich to other destinations but Qatar was not willing to book us on those flights. I checked and there were seats available. {5th Chance to provide some level of customer service] Upon checking online, we learned that there was smoke in the cockpit and that was the reason for the emergency landing. What we found horrifying was that upon landing, we were made to sit inside the aircraft for 2 hours after that! Qatar had a flight go up in smoke three months ago but passenger safety was not a concern as we were sitting in a plane which could have gone up in smoke and there were emergency vehicles all around and we had no updates. This one is a BIG mess up in my eyes as we could be in a burning/ smoking plane. [6th mess up of Qatar}
    We were given some meal vouchers for all our troubles to be used inside the holding area in Zurich. We obviously missed our connecting flight to New Delhi but were assured that we would be taken care of on arrival into Doha. On arrival into Doha, we were informed that our flight to Delhi would be 11 hours later and were offered hotel accommodation. Our trip to India was only for 10 days – because of this delay, we were looking at having lost one whole day. After almost 2 hours of talking to ground personnel, we were put on an Etihad flight which took close to 8 hours to get to Delhi via Abu Dhabi. We were 11 people who were going to Delhi and all the ground crew wanted to do us was get us out of the area. The supervisor Masuma was professional but was not willing to help. So now we are all lying on the floor in the customer service area after 8 hours of flying, 2 hours on the tarmac, 12 hours in Zurich and then the 8 hour flight to Doha and all the waiting for boarding etc while they take a few hours to book us. In all, it took us 48 hours to get to Delhi from Miami. Qatar had a flight out and so did other airlines into our final destination but Qatar would rather nickel and dime us and make us stay in Doha for 11 extra hours {7th chance to do the right thing- See a theme here. If all goes well then Qatar is great but if anything goes out of the ordinary they have no clue about customer concern / safety or comfort}
    Finally we reached our final destination and the bags and disembarking was smooth and efficient.

    Travel back to Miami: The day before our departure from Delhi back to Miami, on the 29th of November, tried to check in for our CONFIRMED flight to Miami. We were unable to check in and no further information was given online. We called and were told that we were not booked for the flight and that our entire booking had been cancelled due to a “glitch in the system’. (8th chance – please inform us if you are going to cancel our flights) Our information was taken and the representative (Floyd and then Akash) on the line assured us that he would get back to us within an hour. When we did not hear back for 2 hours, (9th mess up of Customer Service) we made our way to the local office on Barakhamba Road in New Delhi where we were given the same information and were told to wait. After another 2 hours, we were told that our flights had been reinstated and that we had confirmed bookings for our return. So Qatar Airways “System Glitch cost us another ½ day to get our confirmed booking reinstated.
    While at the Barakhamba Office in New Delhi, I requested an upgrade for the Doha – Miami sector in return for the extreme inconvenience caused to us. We were told by the agent Ekta that we should request this at check-in. We did that and were told that the flight was full but that Doha should be able to accommodate us. Upon our arrival in Doha, we went to the ground staff and obtained our boarding passes. We were looking at a 19 hour layover in Doha and had reserved a hotel room on our own. We requested an upgrade at that time for our flight after explaining all that had happened to us. We spoke to the agent as well as the supervisor on duty who explained that they were putting in a note for us to be upgraded and that we should arrive at the boarding gate at least an hour before departure to confirm this. We did so and were then told by the check-in agent that we were not going to be upgraded.( 10th chance to do the right thing) We requested to speak with a supervisor who told us there was nothing he could do. There were seats available in Business Class but he could not upgrade us. (11th frustrating experience] He was rude and absolutely unwilling to help. (12th chance and by this time we had had more than enough of the shabby treatment by Qatar)
    Reaching Miami: Upon arrival into Miami, we discovered that 2 of our suitcases were damaged beyond repair. We waited for the ground clerk to help us. After waiting for close to an hour after a 15 hour flight, we learned that Qatar would only reimburse half of the price of our luggage! They wanted us to provide receipts showing how much we paid for the bags and then they would reimburse ½ of that value. Seriously we have to carry receipts for our suitcase purchases. We were so exhausted at that point, that we just left. (13th customer service mess up)
    Our experience has been so bad that we all to become aware of how Qatar Airways treats its passengers. Not only was little attention paid to our safety post the emergency landing, there was also no concern or arrangements to get us to our destination as soon as possible. On top of that, our return journey was made into a nightmare as well. Like I said in the beginning – Nightmare called Qatar Airways.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *